Brrrr...

Taupo Travel Blog

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The beautiful rolling green hills of the North Island countryside.

It's downright chilly here in the central part of the North Island.  This afternoon we experienced both snow and ice, although neither stuck to the ground or the roads.  Nevertheless, I believe it was the first time any of us had seen snow actually fall in the middle of June! 

We weathered the night on Mt. Ruapehu, despite the winds and torrential rains.  Unfortunately, because of the weather, we didn't get to see the three mountains (which are active volcanoes) in the sunlight.  We took the opportunity to relax, though.  (Since we don't have any pictures to share from the area, for those of you who wonder, Mt. Ruapehu and the surrounding Tongariro Crossing is where the Mordor scenes from the LOTR trilogy were filmed.)

Today we took off toward Waitomo, the site of a special species of glow worms that only live in a few caves in that area of New Zealand.

Huka Falls just outside Taupo. The picture does a poor job of capturing just how mean this torrent really is.
  We descended deep into the earth, past stalagmites and stalactites, cavernous chambers and beautiful limestone formations.  Eventually we boarded a boat that sailed through a grotto.  Above our heads it looked as if we had stumbled upon the night sky.  The glow worms, in their pupa stage (which is the 2nd of the four cycles in their life), illuminated the chamber and created this amazing, ethereal light.  I only wish we could have photographed the little buggers.

From there we headed southeastward to Taupo.  Taupo, which conveniently sits on the shores of Lake Taupo, was the site of what is believed to be the largest volcanic explosion in history.  And the area is still active.  We arrived rather late in the day, so we will post pictures of the amazing waterfalls and geothermal vents and other features at a later date.  For now, though, know we are safe and happy and winding our way up the North Island in anticipation of a Sunday flight to Hawaii, which will be our final stop before returning to Atlanta.

Take care, mates!!

-Chris

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The beautiful rolling green hills …
The beautiful rolling green hills…
Huka Falls just outside Taupo.  Th…
Huka Falls just outside Taupo. T…
Yum.  Everything that could possib…
Yum. Everything that could possi…
Our first geothermal feature--stea…
Our first geothermal feature--ste…
A full rainbow.
A full rainbow.
The discharge of Huka Falls.
The discharge of Huka Falls.
Taupo
photo by: carpefunk